Li v. Yellow Cab Co. – Case Brief

Summary of Li v. Yellow Cab Co., 13 Cal.3d 804, 119 Cal.Rptr. 858, 532 P.2d 1226 (1975).

Facts: Li (P) was struck by a cab driver for Yellow Cab Co. (D) as she was crossing three lanes of traffic to enter a gas station. The cab driver had been driving too fast and had run a yellow light. Li brought this lawsuit to recover for personal injuries and damages arising from the accident. The trial court entered a judgment barring damages for Li on the grounds that she had been contributorily negligent. Yellow Cab Company appealed.

Issue: Can opposing parties in a negligence claim both be held liable under the doctrine of comparative negligence? Is secondary implied assumption of the risk subsumed by comparative negligence?

Holding and Rule: Yes and yes. Under the doctrine of comparative negligence, liability is based on the relative percentage each party’s fault if both parties are negligent.

Notes: As a matter of public policy, the doctrine of comparative negligence is preferable to an “all or nothing” rule from the point of view of logic, practical experience and fundamental justice. This case is also cited as Li v. Yellow Cab Co. of California.

See Brown v. Kendall for a law school torts case brief in which the court held that under the common law doctrine of comparative negligence, liability is based on the relative percentage of each negligent party.


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